University free speech plans ‘a welcome boost’ to Christian Unions and pro-life groups
The Christian Institute has welcomed Government plans to boost free speech at universities, pointing out that it will benefit Christian student groups and church student workers, as well as pro-life groups.
The Department for Education has announced a new free speech obligation to be placed on higher education providers as a condition of their access to public funding. The regulator, the Office for Students, will have power to impose fines on those who breach the condition.
For the first time student unions will be under a duty to ensure that lawful free speech is secured for their members and for visiting speakers.
Individuals will be able to seek compensation through the courts if they are expelled, dismissed or demoted for lawful free speech.
Simon Calvert, Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute, said today:
“For too long universities have been at the heart of the kind of stultifying ‘group think’ that banishes Christian ideas, and those who think them, to the margins.
“The ‘cancel culture’ we see eating its way through our national life started out on university campuses. Instead of promoting free speech, universities and student unions have spent years attacking it.
“We all know cases of Christian Unions being disaffiliated from the Student Union – usually for holding orthodox beliefs about sexual ethics. We’ve all heard stories of Christian groups having their event bookings cancelled, or pro-life groups being effectively voted off campus.
“And many Christian students and academic staff can testify to the difficulty they face trying to advance any ideas that don’t fit with the narrow, secularist, socially liberal ideology that dominates university campuses.
“Giving people the ability to enforce their free speech rights against universities and student unions will give a welcome boost to CUs and pro-life groups, as well as to individual students and staff.
“The Christian Institute has a long and successful track record of fighting for free speech, including taking legal action where necessary. We are looking forward to helping Christian students and church student workers access their new rights when they come into force.
“If you or someone you know has been discriminated against at university because of your evangelical beliefs, contact The Christian Institute and we’ll see if we can help. Email us at email@example.com”
Notes for Editors
The Christian Institute is a non-denominational registered charity, which seeks to promote the Christian faith in the UK.
It was founded in 1991 by Christian church leaders and professionals and it currently campaigns on a range of issues including marriage and the family, child protection, pro-life concerns, drugs, religious liberty and education, as well as Christianity and the constitution.